What started out as a challenge between the manager of community-based independent Ring Bros. Marketplace and 11 year old Elizabeth Kirby to get a few Facebook fans snowballed into a lesson of the power of social media and a windfall of support for a local food pantry.
While Elizabeth and her mother Kerrie were shopping at Ring Bros. Marketplace last Tuesday afternoon they struck up a conversation with Ring’s general manager Don Fallon. Upon learning that Ring was just four Facebook fans away from 300, Elizabeth said she could get the four needed fans. In fact she could get 100 new fans. This spawned a challenge between the young girl and the grocer that both exploded Ring’s Facebook fan base and at the same time turned into a charitable program that raised $2,000 for local charities.”
“We couldn’t replicate these results even if we planned this out,” Fallon told Progressive Grocer, referring to the viral marketing potential of social media. “According to our insights page, the number of “Likes” on our page are up 12,900 percent [yes, that’s twelve thousand, nine hundred] since last week, and our post feedback is up 4,000 percent. And I would say about 80 to 85 percent of the new fans – if not more – are relevant adult consumers.”
Here’s how it began: “The goals were as follows,” said Fallon. “If Elizabeth could get Ring Bros. to 300 Fans by Saturday, she and her brother Jamie would win free admission to one of the April vacation kid’s cooking classes. For 320 Fans, she could pick the menu for the class, and for 400 Fans she and her family would get a $100 gift card to the store.”
Elizabeth got to work right away, gathering 10 new Fans within an hour of the challenge. By the mid morning Wednesday she had reached the goal of 320.
Thursday morning when the total number of Fans reached 388, Elizabeth did something very unexpected to reach the goal of 400.
She changed the challenge into a charity with a single post on Ring Bros. Facebook Wall:
HEY thanks to all are hard work we have 388 people and I want to tell you all something Don and I made a bet [that] if I got to 400 he would give my family and I a $100 gift card. I want to make a change so I will give my $50(because my brother gets the other $50) I want to give mine to a soup kitchen or a charity so I'm not only helping Ring Brothers I am helping kids, parents, and other ones in need… so lets get that 400 for the people who need it XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO let’s get 400 likes for Ring Brothers !!!!!!? ? ? ? ? :) :) :)
Immediately Fallon matched her $50 pledge. When Rita McClelland, owner of Spinner’s Pizza at Ring Bros. Marketplace, saw the post she pledged $100. The goal of 400 Fans was reached at about 10:00 a.m.
Kerrie Kirby, Elizabeth’s mother, then posted the following on Ring’s Facebook wall...
We still have two days to go ...If we can get 500 Fans by noon Saturday I will match Elizabeth's and Ring Brothers donations to "Create The Good " (the new food pantry for the Dennis -Yarmouth school children ) Please spread the word !!
Create the Good is a food pantry dedicated to serving the needs of Dennis-Yarmouth School Children. Founded in November of 2010, it distributes donated non perishable food and staples in all D-Y schools. Ring Bros. decided to extend the goodwill from its Facebook page to the store and began taking donations through its cash registers for Create the Good. Signs were placed at the registers asking customer to donate.
During the cooking class held Thursday evening, the Kirby’s visited and raised $100 more for the food pantry.
The goal of 500 Fans was hit late afternoon on Thursday, and Ring Bros. posted on its Facebook page a coupon good for 5 percent off to thank its new fans for their support. This drew even more Fans, as existing Fans started issuing challenges to reach 600. By midnight Thursday the page had 550 Fans.
Then it went truly viral.
Friday morning local business had caught wind of what was happening and started to help out. Vetorino's Landscaping and North Side Auto Body posted the story on their Facebook walls. The goal was transforming these “likes” (what a Facebook member does to become a Fan of a page – they “Like” it by clicking a Like button) to raising as much money as possible for Create the Good.
About 8 a.m. the following post appeared on Ring’s Facebook page:
ERT Architects will donate $100 for every company/individual (up to five for a total of $500) that will make the same offer for Create the Good (DY School Food Pantry's). If you would please consider making the same kind commitment or help by donating towards the match...imagine the exponential benefit that this could have. -- From Erik Tolley via Kerrie Kirby”
Roger’s & Grey Insurance, Dennis Equipment, Corey’s Custom Landscaping, M.J. Nardone Carpentry, Dark Horse Beef & Deli, Harney’s Liquors and Ring Bros. Markets all pledged $100, raising $1,200 for the food pantry in less than six hours, and passing the original goal of five sponsors. Other local businesses began pledging $100 each if Elizabeth will help them get to a certain number of Fans on their pages as well. “Imitation surely is the sincerest form of flattery,” noted Fallon.
Fan No. 600 came at 11:15 p.m. Friday night. With that, several people came through with their pledges totaling about $200.
In total, more than 300 people became fans of Ring Bros. Facebook in the span of three and a half days, doubling the number of fans the store had. What’s more, Create the Good received over $2000 in donations to restock their empty shelves.
Perhaps most importantly, an 11 year old learned the value of helping others – and learned it in a cool way that will no doubt inspire her peers to do the same.
Donations to Create the Good may be made by sending a check to Create the Good P.O. Box 1151 South Yarmouth, MA 02664-1151